What gives a town a sense of place? Familiar landmarks, schools that evoke memories and remind us of rites of passage, venues that echo of milestones celebrated as well as the little moments shared along the way that comprise our lives. All this is true; however, the cornerstone of every thriving community is the presence of a distinct Main Street, with a unique flair and flavor which is quintessential to that village. Patchogue has one, Bellport has one, many villages across Long Island do, and now Mastic Beach is seeking to reify this vision for its own area.
On Wednesday, Nov. 2 at 6:30 p.m. at William Floyd High School, the initial steps along this ambitious journey, which many surrounding villages have provided inspiration for, began to take shape as the first community outreach meeting to unveil the proposed Neighborhood Road redevelopment concept plan was held to a large attendance. This introductory session was presented by the Beechwood Organization in cooperation with The Town of Brookhaven. It was through a request for qualifications that the Town selected the Beechwood Organization as the master developer for Neighborhood Road in Mastic Beach, in October 2021. As the developer for the community, Beechwood wants residents’ opinions about what makes a community, their community, and an ideal place to live. It was with this in mind that the detailed presentation was held with a Q&A period at the end where all in attendance, most of whom were longtime residents of Mastic Beach, had a chance to voice their support, ask questions, raise concerns, and share ideas.
Those on the panel for the PowerPoint presentation and subsequent Q&A included Colin Greene, Elysa Goldman, Steven Dubb, and Cooper Carry on behalf of Beechwood Homes, Brookhaven Town councilman Dan Panico, Leigh Rate, assistant Brookhaven town attorney, and James Tullo, Brookhaven commissioner of planning, environment, and land management. Beechwood has worked toward providing quality housing and retail communities and has been developing throughout Long Island since 1985.
The redevelopment area in Mastic Beach includes approximately 37 acres and encompasses 140 parcels, generally bounded by Commack Road and the intersection of Mastic Road and Doris Drive to the north; Doris Drive to the east; and Victoria Place, Linden Place, and Commack Road to the south.
The Beechwood Homes Mastic Beach proposed master plan includes the following: eliminate blighted properties identified by their blight study, redevelop with the goal of implementing a diverse mix of uses for residents, visitors, and workers; create infrastructure improvements; create a pedestrian-centered downtown; improve public safety; stimulate the local economy by attracting new investments; provide high-quality architecture and landscaping; produce form-based Code to create high quality design for buildings and the public forum; create additional housing types, including for those with special needs; improvement of streetscapes; and creation of public recreation opportunities which connect the community to the waterfront and the ocean beaches.
“The goal is to have a place that you’re proud to call Main Street, and to raise property values, and to create a Main Street, a downtown on Neighborhood Road with retail storefronts, mom and pop shops, amenities, pubs, and to build houses to complement these,” said Dubb. He was quick to dispel any misconceptions about what Beechwood’s objective is. “It will be luxury housing, not low-income or Section 8. It is not what we’re going to do. It is not what Beechwood Homes does. Of the 10,000 homes in 70 communities, we have never once built Section 8.” This statement was met with enthusiastic applause, but conversely it also raised concerns of the opposite polarity about gentrification, which is the restoration, upgrading, and changing the character of a neighborhood through the influx of more affluent businesses and residents often resulting in the displacement of lower-income people. Many of the questions and concerns raised at this preliminary meeting echoed a similar sentiment of worries about lifelong, working-class members of the community being priced out of the area due to higher taxes and other increases in cost of living associated with the word “luxury.”
“We are not looking to build the Hamptons here,” assured Greene. “We want to give this community a Main Street it can be proud of, somewhere to gather.” This was also met with enthusiastic applause from many attendees.
Those on the panel also drew attention to the fact that new housing can benefit not only incoming community members, but older, lifelong residents as well. New housing can be a boon to older residents who are at a stage in their life as empty-nesters ready to move from a single-family home to a more low-maintenance condo or townhouse. “It will allow residents of Mastic who are aging to stay in Mastic and allow new families to buy those homes,” remarked Greene, rendering it a win-win proposition for all involved. Despite this reassurance, there was still reticence from some in attendance who are excited about the prospect of Neighborhood Road as a bustling Main Street but have traffic and cost-of-living concerns.
This project is still in its incipient and brainstorming stage, which is why it’s a critical time to receive input from the community as plans are being envisioned. “We would love to hear what you do want. Help us get closer to the goal,” requested Greene. For more information or to share your questions, ideas, or concerns about the proposed Neighborhood Road development concept plan call 631-451-6502, visit brookhaven.gov or go to beechwoodhomes.com.
No comments on this item Please log in to comment by clicking here